) and its partner,
) recently presented disappointing data from a phase III trial on
their oncology candidate, L-BLP25 (formerly referred to as
Stimuvax). L-BLP25 is being developed for the treatment of
unresectable stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
The multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled
START trial enrolled more than 1,500 patients. The trial
evaluated efficacy, safety and tolerability of L-BLP25 in
patients with unresectable, stage IIIA or IIIB NSCLC who have had
a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of
platinum-based chemoradiotherapy. It was found that the use of
L-BLP25 did not improve overall survival (OS) significantly and
did not meet the primary end point.
However, in certain subgroups, treatment benefit was observed.
The companies plan to analyze the data further. Detailed data
from the START trial will be presented at upcoming scientific
Currently, a second phase III trial, INSPIRE, is ongoing. The
trial is evaluating L-BLP25 in patients of Asian heritage
suffering from unresectable, stage IIIA or IIIB NSCLC who have
had a response or stable disease after at least two cycles of
In 2007, Merck KGaA had gained development and
commercialization rights to L-BLP25 from Oncothyreon. In Japan,
Merck KGaA has a co-development and marketing agreement with a
Japanese pharma company, Ono Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
We currently have a Neutral recommendation on Oncothyreon. The
stock carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) in the short run.
Pharma stocks that currently look more attractive include
). All these companies carries a Zacks #2 Rank (Buy).
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